Problems relocating phone number

The number of complaints we receive regarding problems with phone-line setup is amazing since it’s BT’s core business. You’d think by now they would have bucked their ideas up, but no, here is another complaint….

Dear Sir

I am writing to try to understand why in this age of computers and technology BT expect a person or organisation to exist without a phone line for 5 working days whilst it re-allocates a number used by the person/organisation to a line again used by the person/organisation.

I am the treasurer of the local parish church and have had a number of tortuous dealings since 2007 with BT. It started when our Rector retired and moved out of the Rectory, I asked to take the line over as this number had been a parish contact for many years and was known by numerous people including the local funeral directors for booking funerals. This went less than smoothly and took 4 weeks to retrieve.

Next I needed to move that to a new address in the same exchange area which again was less than simple. I have now been asked to move the line into the church (where we have already a working line) and have the original line re-numbered. My original request seemed sensible and that was to swop the numbers of the two lines over, but I was told that it will take 5 working days per phone, and that we would loose the lines for that amount of time.

I contacted the ‘customer services’ number to be met with a number of options that did not meet my enquiry, and as I had to choose an option I chose ‘problem with your line’, they put me through to ‘house move’, once I explained what I wanted to do. The house moving department came up with an option that sounded to be simple and would possibly result in a loss for 24-48 hours of service on the 768160 line. This we could manage.

They put me through to service department with a suggestion that I asked for a new number for 01904 768160 and then renumbering of 01904 750332 (the latter number not important to the parish). First service said I needed to book the move with the moving house section, after explaining twice that they had put me through with this message the person then went for help from his ‘coach’.

I was then informed that 01904 768160 could be re-numbered on Thursday 3 December, but an order for that number to be change on the other line could not be placed until 3 Dec when the number was released. The lead time would then be approximately 5 days i.e. the line we need for funeral bookings would be out for one week (the usual lead time for a funeral to happen from death)! I asked if I changed the phones to business lines would that make a difference and was told no.

I find it hard to believe that your systems are not able to place an order for a change of number, booking the release of one number and then the reallocation on the same day of booking. Mobile phones when changing supplier are only out for a few hours, but BT have to have me call again on the 3rd Dec to place the order to put 768160 onto the church line and wait 5 working days for it to happen whilst no one can contact us.

I do not believe any company would be able to survive a 5 day down time if they moved office. Why should they?

I have placed the order for the first step and put a note on my calendar to call the service department at 8am on the 3rd (before I go to my day job) to book the final step. I am dreading this call as I have visions of the line not being available to reallocate and it taking another 4 weeks and numerous calls to sort it out.

My ‘BT saga log’ I started in 2007 may have to be added to, I hope not and I really hope that it does not take 5 working days to re-allocate the number. I might also mention I have not been given the replacement number for the first step either so we are totally non-contactable due to BT from 3 Dec to ?

Maybe you have an answer?

Terina Hurley
York, England

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  • I read your submission with interest as we have recently had a very similar situation as follows:

    Moving my telephone number from one address to another within the same exchange I lose service for a full 5 days and am then given a completely different number, as on the way BT released my number which was picked up by someone else (actually BT on behalf of another customer) and could then not be retrieved as it was changed to business. Unbelievably it was actually allocated to the new people moving to our old address – a child could not have created such a scenario.

    I was not told that they can not always guarantee transfer of an existing number to a new property when that is what is ordered. I only stuck with BT because I thought it would all be one company and could not be easier!!!

    Then on ordering broadband I was forced to accept direct debit before they would give us service. They then switched my phone bill to being paid by direct debit at the same time without even telling me (is that legal???). An Indian person I could not understand then phoned to offer to separate it if I have another 5 days without service and set up broadband from scratch again! Well having just got up and running after all this hassle I am unlikely to do that and feel exhausted, deceived and cornered by the whole process.

    The problem is that no-one in that organisation is answerable. No wonder the modern world is so full of stress and anxiety How can it be so bad I ask????? And this is not the first time, I had endless billing problems a couple of years ago….. Customer service does not come into it.

  • Not having a phone connection for 5 days. Think yourself lucky! I was meant to have my phone connected on the 11th December after moving house. It is now the 23rd of December and they still haven't sorted it out. Every time I call them they say they will do it and have not. The last manager I spoke to said he would call be back within 2 hours and didn't. No phone for Christmas calls – and until my phone is connected I can't work from home. I am 6 and a half months pregnant and am having to slide about in icy conditions each day to get to the station. All because they cannot seemingly connect a phone line in which the previous tennants had a phone line. We are yet to find out if they try to charge us for line rental for this period. I suspect another drama. Chances of reimbursement for mobile phone calls to BT (because we can't use the free call number because we don't have a phone!)I suspect are zero. If I fall in the icy conditions as I needlessly make my way to work because of there incompetence I will look for every legal avenue available to sue them. I have never encountered such sheer incompetence and never felt so frustrated at these so-called customer service staff and managers who fail to meet promise after promise to simply connect my phone line. It is a disgrace!

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